Howard Books, 2014
Reviewed by Marian Baay
Since I read The Well by Stephanie Landsem last year, I have been looking forward to more books by this talented author. The Thief was another excellent and exciting adventure set during Jesus’ walk on earth. This book tells the story of the sister of the man born blind who was healed by Jesus in John chapter 9. In this book his name is Cedron.
Nissa is Cedron’s sister and she is the one taking care of their family. Their father gambles away their rent money and their mother is drunk most of the time. One day when Nissa was out pocket-picking, she was caught by a tall Greek named Dismas. The Greek is also a thief and teaches her the rules of stealing. Since then they would always go thieving together, forming an excellent pick-pocket duo. Dismas does not know Nissa is a girl, because when they meet she is dressed like a boy. One day she is caught by a Roman centurion, but Dismas distracts the man so that Nissa can get away.
After Cedron is healed by Jesus, he is rejected by his parents and no longer welcome in their home. Nissa takes him to a hideout where they stay for the night. Shortly afterwards she finds a house to rent, but in order to make the monthly payment Nissa must continue stealing. Although she does not want to do it anymore, there is no other way for her to make money. There is just simply nothing she is good at, except for picking pockets.
Longinus is the centurion we have met before in The Well. He is still looking for Cipio’s murderer and now he is also looking for a small thief and his Greek companion. They knew to escape once, but he will make sure that does not happen twice.
Longinus is a witness of Cedron’s healing and after Cedron and Nissa are rejected and scorned by their own people, he brings them to safety. He is concerned about the Jewish brother and sister and checks on them regularly. Not looking for a woman, he finds himself attracted to Nissa anyhow. But a relationship between a Jewish woman and a Roman centurion is as good as impossible. When he does not make any progress finding the thieves, he hires Cedron to go out and gather information about them. Longinus made a deal with his superior that he would find the thieves before Passover. If he does not succeed, he will lose his sword—the precious reminder of his father, who was a brave Roman centurion.
One day when Nissa meets Dismas, he has brought another man with him, and they go out stealing together. The man is called Gestas and he is mean and greedy. He leads Nissa in a terrible situation. Afterwards Nissa decides she does not want to steal anymore . . . ever! But then Gestas discovers Nissa’s secret and threatens her. She has no other choice then to continue pick-pocketing for this evil man. After months of stealing for Gestas, she comes up with a plan to get rid of him, but that does not go as she had hoped or planned.
When Cedron finds out that Nissa is the thief he was looking for, will he ever forgive her or will he also turn against her like everyone else? And what will happen when Longinus discovers what Nissa has done?
Will the Jewish young woman and the tough Roman centurion find healing and forgiveness?
This is a wonderful book full of rich historical details, well developed characters, excellent writing, and a fabulous plot. At times I found myself on the edge of my seat; almost too anxious to continue reading—how could this book ever have a satisfying ending?
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